Do you suffer from what can sometimes be a debilitating illness like Arthritis? Did you know one of the most important things that you can do for your joints is getting up and moving? Having a chronic illness, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, I know how important it is to Get up and get moving with movement for joint health.
I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis more than 8 years ago, a crushing diagnosis that slumped me into a depression state about the future of my body and joints and the association with medication and movement. Commonly compared to Osteoarthritis due to the symptoms, Rheumatoid Arthritis is far more debilitating. When I was initially diagnosed I took all the medications because then I thought, “that’s what you are supposed to do” and then after feeling some of the effects from those medications I looked to alternatives. The most important thing that I discovered, other than changes in eating, was that you must change the way you approach exercise and how much you are immobile.
Finding the right exercise program for your body even without a diagnosis of medical illness is very important and should always be your main focus in finding what works for you. A year ago I initially got back into exercise by jumping in with both feet at 200% and quickly found that my choices did not agree with my body or my joints. Pushing myself through plyometric exercise programs three or more times per week caused me to have flare ups almost once per week. Finally, after months of pain and extreme fatigue I chose to listen to my body. Initially I found that I had to take a drastic approach to how I was going to tackle eliminating the flare ups. I stopped going to my intense bootcamp classes and allowed my joints to recover from all the stress that I had put them under for all those months.
Over the past several months I have fallen in love with my spinning classes. Yes, sometimes the tried and true methods of less impact help us more than we could ever imagine. I began picking up more of the spinning classes offered at one of my health clubs in town, Kinetix Health Club on Kerry Forrest Parkway in Tallahassee, lead by my bootcamp group fitness trainer and friend, Shannon Colavecchio. For a 45 minute workout, Kinetix Health Club offers more than six different spinning, we call it “Cycle” these days, classes per week and if you want to try it out you can pay a $10 “drop in” fee and you do not have to be a member. The other classes that Shannon does not teach are taught by her colleagues, Chris Turner and Sarah Criser, and they are just as challenging and beneficial. Generally, you can burn more than 500 calories per class and you can make it work for you at your level. No knee impact, like with running, you do not feel beat up after class.
When I began taking cycle I did not have any fancy shoes or cycling gear to take with me, just my towel, a large bottle of water and my regular running shoes. For non-cycle shoe wearers there are baskets for your feet to fit into. Figuring out that this was one of the right classes for me, I next invested in a gel seat cover for the cycle that I can bring with me to class, trust me and spend the $20+ on the gel seat your lady or man parts will thank you for it later! You can find the gel seat covers at your local sporting goods stores from $20 – $30 depending on the cover you choose.
Next I found that I really waned to invest in the proper cycling shoes to get the most out of each class that I attended and I was on the fence about what shoes to pick and then Shannon came to class with cycle sandals and viola, my shoe option was right in front of me and ON SALE! With the cycle sandal I am able to walk around without having to switch from regular street shoes to shoes just for cycling in class. I purchased my cycle sandals online from Amazon.com but there is also a great online discount store called Nashbar.com that has many cycling specials. If you choose to get regular cycle shoes you will want to bring a regular pair of shoes to change into because the regular cycle shoes are really slick on the bottom and may cause you to fall when you are not using them on the bike. If you buy your cycle shoes online I would recommend when you receive them taking them to one of the local cycle shops in town to have your clips added for you. I went to The Great Bicycle Shop on Thomasville Road and paid $15 and only waited about 15 minutes. Quick and friendly, SOLD!
So now my typical gear for class consists of my gel seat for a less painful ride, cycle shoes which I wear to class, two towels for wiping the sweat away and a large bottle of cold water for rehydrating. In a typical ride I burn up to 650 calories (I wear a heart rate monitor to get an exact number) and make sure you stay for the stretch afterward. This is a great class to start no matter where you are in your fitness journey. As always, if you have chronic health or heart problems, you should consult your physician before you start.
In addition to my weekly cycle classes I am now incorporating a Yoga Core Class. An hour-long class which is offered at a local yoga studio called Yoga Quest. The core class on Sunday afternoons is a nice way to unwind from what is usually a busy weekend in our house and to refresh for the week ahead. The flexibility that I gain from this class is invigorating. I took my last core class two weeks ago and literally felt like I could go out and run miles afterward. I have also attended the “Hot” Yoga class in a heated room and helps with the deeper stretching without injury. Yoga Quest offers packages for multiple classes and for more information on cost, please contact them directly at (850) 597-8772. Their friendly staff will be happy to help you and answer any questions you may have.
So get up and get moving. One step, one cycle or one stretch may be just what you need to get your flexibility back and yourself on the track of being more mobile!